A. Sutherland – AncientPages.com – Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) is originally a character from the tradition of the East Slavs including the Belarusian, Russian, and Ukrainian people.
Assisted by his granddaughter the Snow Maiden (‘Snegurochka’), he brings gifts on New Year’s Eve.
His name literally means: Grandfather Frost and this very popular fictional figure is very similar to Father Christmas and Santa Claus. He is usually depicted as a gray-haired and sturdy older man with a long beard, and a magical staff in his hand. He is dressed in a red coat but sometimes, he is also seen in blue and occasionally in white. His head covering is a fur hat.
In old Christmas stories, his transportation means (the so-called ‘troika’) was a sleigh drawn by three white horses. Today, Ded Moroz uses other modes of transportation including helicopters, cars, trams, and he is not climbing down chimneys, as ancient stories tell. He must deliver many gifts to children so it’s much more comfortable for him to enter the houses through the door.
In this tradition, he comes with gifts personally or leaves them under the Christmas tree.
Beautiful Snow Maiden Assists Grandfather Frost
Traditionally, children need to show him how good they are, often reciting a poem or singing a song, before they can get a gift. The beautiful Snow Maiden, (‘Snegurochka’), a character from an ancient fairy tale, always assists him.
Initially, she arose as a character from ancient fairy tales and wore white garments and a crown, decorated with silver and pearls. Her modern winter coat is sometimes blue, white, red, or silver and her crown is occasionally replaced by a beautiful, embroidered cap decorated with fur.
According to Russian folklore, Snegurochka (or ‘Snow Maiden’) arose from the snow. The poor peasants wanted to have a daughter, but they couldn’t, so they formed a snow doll and the doll miraculously came to life. By the reign of the last Emperor of Russia, Nicholas II (1868 – 1918), the Snegurochka had become associated with winter holiday celebrations. The tradition continued until the Soviet Union banned religious holidays in the years after the Revolution. Stalin permitted Grandfather Frost to return two decades after the Russian Revolution, and this Christmas tradition remains until today.
Snegurochka is considered one of the most attractive female characters in Russian culture. She had become Father Frost’s granddaughter (instead of his daughter), his assistant, and a direct link to children.
The seat of the Belarusian DedMroz is said to be in the Bialowieza Forest, one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once covered the entire European lowlands. It is located on the border between Poland and Belarus, and his residence in Russia is believed to be the town of Veliky Ustyug, Vologda Oblast, in Northwestern Russia.